Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Ten years ago today, four passenger jets were hijacked by Al Qaeda terrorists. Two were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, one was flown into the Pentagon, and the fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania when its passengers, realizing what was going on, fought the highjackers for control of the plane.

Ten years ago today, over three thousand men and women died in the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil (and arguably the deadliest terrorist attack anywhere).

Today, news commentators, pundits, and bloggers such as myself comment on this tragedy. Some seek meaning; others seek to prove some larger point. I will do neither.

What I know of 9/11 is this: I know that at least one person whom I knew personally, albeit not closely, was in the World Trade Center that day and died. I know that my neighbor's grandson some years later served in Afghanistan--and because he is serving was not able to make her memorial service when my neighbor passed away last year. I know that, living close to a major airport, the lack of airplane noises because all aircraft are grounded is a silence that is far past eerie. I know that, after 9/11, several aspects of my work and my business as an IT consultant were changed--how to sustain computer networks after terrorist attacks became a disturbing and pressing reality.

What I do not know of 9/11 is whether the act itself "proved" anything. If it "proved" some weakness of the United States, why have there been no similarly successful attacks since then? If it "proved" the strength of Al Qaeda, why did Osama bin Laden spend the rest of his life in hiding?

Nor do I know if 9/11 means anything at all. Three thousand people died because some twenty or so terrorists chose to kill them, in a burst of hatred and violence that is quite beyond my understanding. I do not know why Al Qaeda and its supporters feel such hatred for the US. I do not know why terrorists feel that an orgy of violence is necessary to advance their cause. I do not know, and I do not understand. In all honesty, I do not want to understand--who would want to fathom the minds of murderers?

But I remember something else of that day. I remember that the sun rose, and the sun set. I remember that I got up, exercised, showered, and went off to work. I remember that I came home to a hot meal and a soft bed. I remember that, while three thousand did die tragic deaths, life itself continued.

Today the sun rises just as it did ten years ago. It will set just at it did ten years ago. Come the evening, I will again enjoy a hot meal and a soft bed, and I will again think upon those people who will never again enjoy either. Life itself will continue.

That is how I choose to remember 9/11. That, despite death and destruction, in spite of terror and tragedy, life itself continues--as it always has, and as it always will. Whatever successes Al Qaeda may have had that day, defeating life in all its inevitability is not among them.